FAQ: What can I expect if I travel with your company?
First of all, you can expect to benefit from our 20+ years of experience developing and leading tours. You can count on a level of professionalism that ensures everything is taken care of so you can maximize your precious holiday time. One of our guiding principles is to create experiences that you could never have had without us. We are very aware that we need to add value to your travel experience. Over and above the inclusions noted in your itinerary, you can expect to have a whale of a time! Our guides are accomplished individuals in their own right; many have multiple degrees and come from a variety of walks of life, including former university professors, business consultants, successful artists, actors, translators, authors, bike racers, and are all-round great people! Their primary desire is to create a fun, enriching, informative, and intimate travel experience that our guests couldn’t have had if they travelled alone. For this reason, many of our clients choose the same guide to travel with time and time again. We’re all about the personal connection and we love sharing “our backyard” with our guests. Indeed, travellers often remark at the end of a tour how they really connected with the guides, and that it didn’t feel like they were being guided, but rather that they were travelling with a good friend and sharing wonderful moments together.
FAQ: There are many walking tour companies out there and I'm getting a bit overwhelmed. Why should I travel with you?
We’ve been operating guided holidays for the past 20+ years, so we are resilient! We are happy to be a small company because our passion is travel and discovery, not making it "big". We have a close knit community of both North American and European guides all of whom live in Europe and who have an intimate knowledge of where we travel in Europe. Being a small company, with low overheads we also offer great value for money. We do not offer budget tours, but our prices are very competitive. Ask us and we will tell you why. Most importantly, we love what we do, and we continue to do it. Most of our guides have been guiding for us for over then years. Brett, our Canadian born New Zealand & Tuscany based leader has a very hands on approach to the business and personally develops and leads many of our tours. He takes great pride in his tours and he often personally leads the tours. He has “skin in the game”. Not many travel companies have their owner-director personally leading tours. It means we are committed to and personally responsible for the tours that we offer.
FAQ: What support backup do you have in place if things go awry while on tour? Such as accidents or major events etc??
All of our guides are fully bilingual, (and in some cases trilingual) in whatever region they are guiding therefore they are capable of contacting whatever emergency services are required in case of need. All of our guides have first aid training and carry first aid kits with them. Previously we have had to cope with medical emergencies and we have always managed to do just that, cope with the situation and ensure that the afflicted client is looked after as best as possible. Furthermore, since we have an office in Italy we can always follow up and help the client deal with insurance issues (which is why we request every clients insurance policy number and contact details, as well as a person back home to contact in case of emergency), or reboooking of plane tickets, etc. Etc. Needless to say having professional, bilingual guides looking after you can be of great benefit.
FAQ: I have specific details regarding the tour, who can I speak to, or correspond with directly that has an in-depth knowledge of that tour and the area you’re going to?
Your initial tour enquiry goes directly to our owner/manager Brett Naisby, who is available to answer any and all questions. Each tour has a tour manager and that person (either Brett, Claire, Manu, or Melissa) is also available via email or by skype or telephone to reply to your questions. All of our Trip Managers also guide the tours that they manage so they have first-hand knowledge of the day to day operation of the tour. If you have special requests, or just a million questions then they are there to assist you.
FAQ: Can you tell me a bit about the guide for this trip? Who are they, where are they from, what is there experience?
First of all, all of our guides absulutely love their work. Many have multiple degrees and our ranks include former university professors, business consultants, successful artists (mosaicists, painters, and ceramicists), actors, translators and interpreters, authors, bike racers, and a master sommelier. They all live in Europe, and many are native to the area where they guide. The guides are there to look after you, entertain you, inform you and generally enrich your travel experience. Upon making your booking enquiry, you will correspond with your Trip Manager and guide and will be able to see their picture and read their bio on our "About us" page.
FAQ: How large are your groups?
We cap our walking trips at 14 participants. We usually have groups between 6 and 12.
FAQ: How small are your groups? What is your minimum group size?
We will guarantee a departure for only two people, but a small-group fee may apply. Please see our Guaranteed Departure Policy. for more information. Happily for us, we don't have too many tours that run with just two people. We usually manage to get at least 6 participants on tours, and indeed many of our tours sell out.
FAQ: How many guides accompany a tour?
On our walking tours we have at least one Customwalks guide accompanying tours with up to 8 participants. Once there are more than 8 participants, there are two Customwalks guides. On the walking tours, the guide leads the group, and when there are two guides, one is at the head of the group, and the other is at the back because often the group divides naturally into two groups with slightly differing walking speeds.
FAQ: How many people do you need for a private trip?
We can do a private trip for one person, if that is what you want to do, but of course it will be more expensive. Usually a good number is between six and twelve people. This means your private group benefits from sharing the cost of the trip, while remaining small and flexible. Of course we can also do trips for large groups too! We have done many private tours for groups of 20 - 24 particpants. The largest group was 100 clients.
FAQ: Where do your clients come from?
We have a mix of clientele. Our trips are not prohibitively expensive so we get a nice cross-section of people, geographically, demographically and socio-economically. Most of our travelers are from the United States, although about 25% of our clientele is comprised of Australians, New Zealanders, Canadians, South Africans, and Brits.
FAQ: What is the age range of people on the trips?
On average, ages range from early 30’s to mid 60’s with the majority in the 45 to 60 bracket.
FAQ: Do you get many single travelers?
There are usually at least two or three single travelers on our regular departures, sometimes more. We get more single females traveling with us.
FAQ: Do you charge a single supplement?
Yes, we do, but it is relatively modest since we only charge the extra fees that are passed on to us by the hotels. We do not penalize single travelers with our own fees, and as a result our single supplements are lower than with most tour companies.
FAQ: What are your clients like?
Many of our trip participants have traveled extensively, while others may be on their first overseas trip. Generally, we get fun and interesting people who are curious about the world and enjoy exploring new cultures and the wonders of nature. Hikers and bikers are often just that way! Of course, there is always the risk that you may not like someone on your tour, but that is a relatively rare occurrence. We recognize that a group is made up of individuals and therefore we design our trips to allow plenty of free time, so you can have time for yourself. And lastly, if there is someone who really is disruptive to the group, our guides have the authority to kindly ask them to leave. Happily, in 19 years of doing trips we have only needed to do this on one occasion.
FAQ: How does a typical day work?
We design each day to have a balanced content of activity, cultural content, cappuccino and lunch time, short breaks, and then free time at the end of the day, and then dinner. So a typical day starts with breakfast at about 8 a.m, depart at about 9 a.m, walk for about an hour, have a break, resume, arrive in a village for a snack, another hour of walking, then lunch, then walk a little more, then perhaps a cultural visit/special event, then arrive back at the hotel around 3:30 – 4:00, free time, then get together at about 7:00 for an aperitivo followed by dinner. The guides will then brief you on the next day’s activities.
FAQ: How far do you walk in a day?
We design all our trips to have about 4 hours of activity per day, with a little more in the morning. We usually walk between 12 and 16 kms, with the occassional 20 km day. Please see our Activity Rating page.
FAQ: How long have you been doing tours?
Brett guided his first bike tour in Alsace in June 1990 for a company called Butterfield and Robinson. He established Customwalks in Canada in 1996. The company is now based in Christchurch, New Zealand and we have a Representative Office in Tuscany which gives the company a legal status in Italy and allows us to operate legally in Europe. It also means we get to deal with Italian bureaucracy. Hooray!
FAQ: What about people who suffer from vertigo?
All of the trails that we use are safe.The paths of the Cinque Terre walk and along the Amalfi coast can become narrow on occasion, but only for short stretches. These particular trails traverse the hillside along ancient terraces, sometimes along stone walls or steps. The paths hug the hillside on one side, and open out on the other, but not with precipitous drops. There is almost always foliage, or else a gradual slope down. Sometimes we do have to cross narrow rocky sections, so anyone suffering from acute vertigo may feel uncomfortable. Our guides are used to helping people get over these sections and will make every effort to make sure everyone is safe. However, if you already know that you have serious problems with vertigo then please contact us for a more detailed decription of the trails. In the Dolomites, there are some exposed wide open stretches of paths that would be difficult to negotiate if you suffer from vertigo.
FAQ: What about travel and health insurance?
We highly recommend that you purchase Trip Cancellation Insurance and supplemental Travel Medical Insurance. Should you have to cancel your trip because of illness, injury or death to you or a family member, trip-cancellation insurance protects most of your deposits and payment for both air and land cost. Should you be injured during the course of your travels abroad supplemental Travel Medical Insurance will give you peace of mind and the financial wherewithal to cover the costs of medical treatment abroad and repatriation.
North American Residents: Travel Guard is a long standing Travel Insurance Company. Click on the logo below to be taken to the Travel Guard website.
U.K. Residents: Contact your insurance broker. Otherwise, here are some companies you may wish to contact:
N.Z. & Australian residents
For New Zealand residents we suggest that you look at the following company or contact your insurance broker or travel agent.
Southern Cross Travel Insurance
For Australian clients we suggest:
Toll free Canada & USA
please note this will ring through to our office in Italy and will be answered between 09:00 and 18:00 Italian time.
(+64) 3 3375951
(+39) 0577 749198
Italian operations office
You can also leave a message, but communication by email is more reliable because during the season we are often on tour, and not in the office.